Interview with Marie Orensanz

“The sense of intimacy is to found in the discovery of the words and symbols. I don’t think art is, nor should it be, the vision of one person, the expression of one person. Instead, it should give people points of reference so that they can develop their own ideas.”

“The work of Marie Orensanz, a major figure of South-American painting, is featured in a large number of international collections, particularly at the Musée national d’Art moderne – Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Centro de Documentación de Arte Actual in Barcelona, Bremen Museum in Germany, and national museums in Argentina and Brazil. She currently spends her time between Paris and Buenos Aires. M. Orensanz began to paint when she was 18, taking classes in Buenos Aires from Emilio Pettoruti, a figurative expressionist painter. Starting in 1953, she travelled to Europe, the United States, and Mexico. She began to show her work in 1963 at solo exhibitions in Buenos Aires and took part in collective exhibitions in several Latin American and European countries.
“From 1972 to 1975, she lived in Milan, where the presentation of her drawings and marbles, organised by Lea Vergine in 1974, would play a considerable role in her career. She moved to Paris in the mid-1970s. Fragmentismo, her first solo show in France, was held at the Galerie des Femmes. The mother of three daughters, she has considered their birth and education as a choice, an occupation, and a constant passion that she sees as equally important as her work. In her marble fragments – whether caught in the bulk of a block or thin as paper – the ruggedness of the broken marble mingles with the smooth whiteness of its polished counterpart. These are “fragments of a whole, fragments of time, which come from a time past and future”. On them, she writes words, makes little drawings, paintings, traces, numbers, any sign that might suggest a new flow of energies and forces. She questions, raises issues, creates meaning, appeals to our sense of memory. Each fragment is open to multiple interpretations, unlimited in time and space.
“In 2002, her installation ¿Para quién suenan las campanas? [“For whom do the bells toll?”] was presented for the first time at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires. In it, seventeen white opaline bells hanging from the ceiling were inscribed with tributes to “those who doubt”, “those who help one another” or “those who hope” – in other words, those whom the structures of power choose to ignore. M. Orensanz uses her work to “open up a dialogue” with the public in order to “produce something within otherness”, in that “exercising one’s mind improves one’s life, one’s pleasure to look at things and transform them (…). Thinking is a revolutionary act.”
Yvette Orengo, from the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices, © 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque

In seven chapters — A nomadic life begins (Buenos Aires, 1952 – Paris, 1964) / Power stuggles, masquerades and abstraction (1964-1968) / Social justice, Roma-Milano, Mari becomes Marie (1969-1974) / Fragments and systems (Carrara, 1974 – Paris, 1975) / The Paris art scene and a special friend / Situation, scale, material / Commemorating, honoring — this interview gives Marie Orensanz the opportunity to evoke at the same time her biography, her artistic course and the spirit of her work.

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English edition

Preface: Camille Morineau

21 colour reproductions

13 black-and-white reproductions

96 pages

13 × 21 × 0,9 cm


Published on 07/02/2023

ISBN : 978-2-490505-44-9

Graphic designer: Audrey Templier, Julie Rousset


Published with the support of Région Ile de France
Coproduced with AWARE, Archives of Women Artists Research and Exhibition